Barclays is expanding Pingit, its mobile payment app, to include cross-border fund transfers. The company said it will offer the service in Kenya starting this week. Additionally, Barclays plans to roll out services to 13 African countries by the end of this year and across Europe early next year.
"[Pingit has] revolutionized how people send and receive money in the UK, and now has the potential to transform international payments around the world," said Antony Jenkins, chief executive of Barclays retail and business banking. "Kenya is a key market where Barclays has operated for over 95 years, and we anticipate significant demand for mobile payments across Africa."
Launched earlier this year, Pingit is a mobile person-to-person payment app that lets users send funds to, or receive them from, anyone with a bank account and mobile phone number. It also offers bill payment and bank account management services.
Pingit is the first service of its kind in Europe, and the expansion into Kenya is significant, since a large segment of the population there has a cellphone, but has limited access to financial services.
"We constantly strive to improve and evolve our services around our changing customers' needs, and this latest development is part of a series of enhancements to make mobile payments more accessible and easy to use," Jenkins said. "Barclays has a long history of innovation firsts and we continue to lead the way in the banking industry."
Barclay's selected Kenya as the initial market for Pingit's international rollout because a large number of Kenyans reside in the U.K., the bank said. More than 200,000 U.K. residents were born in Kenya, and more than Sh50 billion ($600 million) in remittance payments was sent from the U.K. to Kenya in the first half of 2012 alone.
With Pingit, registered users can send up to £750 ($1100) per day. Customers in Kenya will be able to receive up to £5,000 ($7800) per day, Barclays said. Payments made through Pingit are completely free and are completed in minutes. This compares with other remittance services where high fees often apply and waiting periods for funds to become available can be several days, the bank said.
Additionally, retail customers using the service will have access to better currency exchange rates through Barclay's foreign exchange platform.
Since launching, Pingit has been downloaded more than one million times. It's available for iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. By the end of this year, Barclays plans to introduce Pingit in Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Mauritius, Nigeria, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, UAE, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
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